Our amazing range of puppets have inspired these tips!
Tip 1 Choose and introduce your puppet(s) and think what would motivate children most – an animal puppet or a person puppet? Some teachers develop a puppet gang. Young children really empathise well with cute animal puppets and will quickly want the chance to pet them. But be sure that the puppet follows all the classroom and Circle Time rules as it’s a great opportunity to reinforce them and for the puppet to become one of the class.
Tip 2 Let pupils learn the names and characters of the puppets and children will love to ask them questions as if they were a new member of the group. Consider starting with just one puppet and then introduce puppet friends. Circle Time is an ideal time to introduce puppets – the puppet can really be part of the circle. You can take photos of your puppets in your setting and different situations in the school, doing different activities, going shopping, having a picnic, getting ready for a holiday etc. to stimulate discussion and interest.
Tip 3 Once the children have accepted the puppet, let the puppet tell a story or introduce circle time games and rounds. For instance, the puppet could say it wants to get to know the children and ask each in turn to name their favourite animal, lesson, or pass time and build it up from there. When pupils get used to talking to the puppet, it can be used to introduce more tricky topics like friendship issues in the playground, putting litter in the bin or good behaviour for concentrating in class. Children love to solve the puppet’s problems which helps them to think through solving issues within the class.
Puppet: “Sometimes I have nobody to play with at playtime, what can I do children?”
Puppet: “In the playground, I can see wrappers on the ground and it looks nasty and is not good for the environment – can anyone think what we could do?”
Puppet: “In class its sometimes difficult for me to concentrate – can you help me to know what I can do to concentrate better?”
Tip 4 Some practitioners practice in front of the mirror! You can use your own voice, give the puppet a voice, or have a silent puppet who whispers in your ear. Practice using different emotions with the puppet – happy, sad, angry, shy. Make sure the puppet makes eye contact with the children and they will focus on the puppet more.
Tip 5 Keep the use of the puppet safe by stressing that using puppets is a special ‘pretending time’ and a signal can be used at the beginning and end of this ‘pretending time’. A good way to end the session with puppets is to return the puppet to its special place (maybe a shelf in your cupboard) to enjoy ‘pretending’ another day. Its best to avoid leaving the puppets lying around.
Overall, puppets seem to work best when practitioners relax and enjoy using them and build up confidence gradually. To gain more advanced skills, consider a puppet training course.
Jenny Mosley Consultancies Training
For more information on Jenny Mosley’s Quality Circle Time, better behaviour for learning, lunchtimes and playtimes, puppetry and other training courses and resources, phone 01225 767157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to: www.circle-time.co.uk.
Puppet books and Resources:
For a fantastic range of large and small puppets including animals and birds and diverse people character puppets that children love, go to www.circle-time.co.uk/shop
For fantastic resources, please visit our Webshop, or phone 01225 719204.